Make a new covenant
with the whole of my body
so that perhaps my right hand
will stop saying
God has chosen me'
'I am the first'
'I am the last'
'I am the best'
while it stabs my left
If I were God
- God forbid
and forgive the analogy -
how ridiculous would it be
for my hands to quarrel
each claiming it is me
to the exclusion of the other?
Reading poems by Narda Azaria Dalgleish is like looking into a white hot implosion in which all divided reunites in the compressed plasma and dense gravity of a new consciousness.
Composing in the aftermath of the death of her son, Rotem Moria, in the October 7, 2004 Al Qaeda bombing of the Taba Hilton Hotel in the Sinai, one of a string of such bombings in Egypt at the time, Dalgleish found love and from it forged through her poetry a vision of a whole human existence suspended in divine encompassment.
Dalgeishe's book, I, Israel, Ask represents work created in the two years following the Taba Hilton Bombing, and it takes the form of a series of most traditional conversations with the All. In fact, if it is "Israel" that is delightfully pummeled with cleverly nudging riddles and unfettered declarations of affection, it may be less the State than the figure of Israel who was Jacob who also wrestled with God, and addressing that Israel in the title finds addressed in each poem God almighty himself.
How are You?
Oh instant, Oh breath, Oh place,
Oh Love-to-be-known, how are you?
what good news have you from He, who is
unknowable, to me, who is none other than Him?
they said at the open portal, when you enter the Heart of Man
place upon the altar of He who is unknowable
the whole of existence
Rotem Moria, pictured to the right, had been camping in the Sinai and was returning to Israel via the Taba border crossing (below) when he, with a friend, had walked into the Taba Hilton to use the bathroom.
How capricious and indescriminate God would seem at first, and indeed we may "place upon the altar . . . the whole of existence in-question," as one might say conventionally ("in question"), but with a startling twist we may also lend more weight to the mission and mystery that resides in inquiry itself ("in-question").
What art Thou?
And what art has Dalgleish created for--or because of--a mighty and perplexing Thou?
In an interview in The Times, journalist Libby Purves quotes Dalgleish as saying, "I went to the funeral in Israel and felt . . . extraordinary. Everything I have learnt, with a sense of certainty which has nothing to do with the intellect, was Love. It is not to do with one relative self in reference to another self. It is about what is real in every existence . . . . That is not to say that I was not grieving. Pain is not removed. But grief -- it strips you down."
Born in Tel Aviv in 1951, Dalgleish, arrived in Great Britain in the wake of a divorce in her twenties, put down roots after a while with an Englishman, opened a dress shop (as a designer) in Burford, Oxfordshire, and became involved in the Beshara School for Intensive Esoteric Education, which is located in the Scottish Borders. So it seems with "children of the 60's" that whether to, say, Esalan on the wings of the father of humanist psychology, Abraham Maslow, or to Beshara on the hopes for peace for all mankind, arrival, after one long, strange trip or another, has been certain, and the aspirations of all find expression through such souls removed to remote searching and thoughtful enclaves.
In Dalgleish's own words from correspondence:
My approach to peace making is very much in accord with JFK's quote on top of the page, from his commencement address at the American University, June 10, 1963.
"Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable ... that mankind is doomed ... that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade ... therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable ... and we believe they can do it again."
About a year or so ago, I came upon a long list of NGO's in the region, many of whom are Israelis making tremendous efforts to to overcome their fears and prejudice in order to learn how to make peace with the so called other, or enemy. As I was working online, sometimes up to 18 hours a day to research, select and create group pages, my heart would melt for the first time after years of ignorance and being subjected to one sided international media exposure ... for the first time I felt a kind of pride in being an Israeli and in belonging with these people ... I also felt a profound frustration that I could do nothing more than just showcase their work online ...
To begin with, I have, almost tyrannically, guarded the place from the possibility of frivolous discussions - hence no discussion happened. I suppose I was not ready to cope with people's possible protest, anger, or political divisive perspectives. Perhaps it was unwise of me to post that response, I apologize to you.
I am aware that no real peace making is possible without the grace of an acute listening to all points of view, however unpleasant. I really miss that kind of listening, very often when it's too late, and yet again forgotten by the force of habit ...
Call "an acute listening" an open reading, a ready state for an immense talent, a welcoming attitude toward possibility, including the possibility that one's enemies today may be working as hard to "overcome their fears and prejudice in order to learn how to make peace . . . ." In Dalgleish's universe made whole, a world healing and healed, the left and right hands know only cooperation--just the one Guidance--even while they fight a while longer.
In the worldwide war and peace camps, streams of conversation may work in the way of water across rocks, so continuous and full of suspended material the fluid, the rocks ultimately shape to friction, remaining where mettle and time prove stronger than the flow of abrasive thought but melting with slow certainty to suit where it may not. Dalgleish's poems in I, Israel, Ask have their own universal, resonant, and shaping power--we, as hard rocks, should all melt and meld a little bit with them.
Narda Azaria Dalgleish
Beshara School at the Chisholm Institute (The): http://www.beshara.org/index.html.
Dalgleish, Narda Azaria. I, Israel, Ask: A Spiritual Response to Love and Death. Or'az Publication, 2007. Excerpt and availability: http://www.wiserearth.org/article/cecff29c2add1ae8c3e5ec49bdfa64ab and http://www.wiserearth.org/article/e7b3eb707a8718aac7409e1bd3cf3d4a.
Dalgleish, Narda Azaria. "Oh Ahmad". Poem. I, Israel, Ask: A Spiritual Response to Love and Death. Or'az Publications, 2007; republished here by permission, OA&L, "The War for Poets", May 10, 2010: http://commart.typepad.com/oppenheim_arts_letters/2010/05/10-1207.html.
Hartman, Ben. "Travel warning brings it all back." The Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2010: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=173162.
Hilel, Yael Bar. Photograph of Taba Hilton destruction. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 10, 2010: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2004/10/Sinai%20terror%20bombings%207-Oct-2004.
Human Rights Watch. "Egypt: Mass Arrests and Torture in Sinai." February 21, 2005: http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11827/section/4.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Rotem Moriah." October 7, 2010: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Memorial/2004/Rotem+Moriah.htm
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Terror Bombings Hit Taba and Ras-a-Satan in Sinai." October 10, 2004: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2004/10/Sinai%20terror%20bombings%207-Oct-2004.
Purves, Libby. "One mother's answer to terror." The Times, Times2 interview, p. 77, June 15, 2007. Online: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article1933033.ece.
Shalaby, Amr. "Taba". JPEG Photograph. Published by permission via GNU Free Documentation License as stated at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taba.JPG.
Urquhart, Conal. "Dozens killed in bomb blasts at Sinai resorts." The Guardian UK, October 8, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/oct/08/israel.travelnews.
Wikipedia. "2004 Sinai Bombings": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Sinai_bombings.
Wikipedia. "Taba, Egypt": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taba,_Egypt.
Wiserearth. "Beshara Scotland": http://www.wiserearth.org/group/BesharaScotland.
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